A Working Dog

Every day since I returned with the new puppy, Tuck and I have moved the remaining sheep out to the east pasture. The east pasture is probably about five acres and was not used for a couple of years after a road crew took out a corner post and most of the fence along the road. I finally had the fence replaced last summer and was able to use it to graze sheep again but it is still very overgrown.

Yesterday morning Tuck and I moved the sheep as usual. Usually by evening the sheep are waiting at the gate to go back to their night pen. Last night, however, when Tuck and I went for the sheep, the sheep were no where to be seen.

Since I was wearing shorts I wasn’t enthused about traipsing through the pasture looking for sheep so I sent Tuck to find them. Given the terrain, I couldn’t see Tuck or the sheep so couldn’t give him directions other than just to tell him to find the sheep.

It took him awhile, but . . .

 

Unfortunately the phone camera isn’t a great way to take photos so I couldn’t get both Tuck and the sheep in the same shot.

While I think it is admirable that people want to do things with their dogs and are willing to spend the time and money to take lessons and trial their dogs, don’t ever believe anyone who has a herding instinct title or herding title when they tell you that their dog can work stock unless they can demonstrate that the dog can perform a task on its own without being given direction. If you need a true working dog look to a breeder who actually works their dog in a similar situation to yours, and not just one who has titles on their dog. These sheep are trotting – not running – and even so, if I hadn’t been yelling at Tuck to hurry up, he would have brought them up at a walk.

Over the past ten years Tuck has proven he is worth his weight in gold (most days) and I’m hoping his great-nephew will be as good, if not better, a worker.

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5 comments

  1. watching….wondering if you will send Tuck and Fix together? Will Tuck “show” Fix? or will Fix
    need to learn on his own? I love reading this…it somehow eases me, that there are things that
    are Just So, still in the world, on this Planet.

  2. A combination of both. Fix often accompanies Tuck and myself when we move sheep. At this point Fix is on a leash (which I will often drop once the sheep are collected and moving) but he is learning the routine. I will work Fix independently in a couple of months when I am ready to teach him directions (go bye and away) and how to walk up and lie down (a stop as opposed to a required down.) Tuck is tolerating Fix while Fix is leashed, but Sidhe used to be impatient with the slowness of working and would always “bounce” at just the wrong time, requiring Tuck to have to gather sheep again so he is unlikely to be happy with working with Fix off-leash. Will have to wait and see how things go. Fix is learning from Tuck right now so when I start him, he will understand the concept of keeping sheep together and that the sheep should never be pushed past a trot (not that I expect he will adhere to those rules initially – I expect he will split sheet a few times and the sheep may be run more than they should until he learns better control.) Working livestock should be like watching paint dry — slow — and young dogs are usually not slow at first.

  3. Love reading these. My DJ would have been a great working dog, he learned everything watching me and tried to do it too. He totally understood what I told him. I would tell him to find the cat and that is all it took. Brought me my newspaper every morning and he learned that just by watching me go get it. I miss that dog so much!


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